A humorous look at the companies that caught our eye, for better or worse, this week
Visa Inc. (Star)
It’s quaint to think of our ancestors stuffing wads of paper currency in small, flat pocket cases they called “wallets.” The only people who carry cash these days are drug dealers, and we barely even need them now that the government is slinging weed. Visa gets this, as it increasingly profits from a post-cash reality. And never mind that every credit card transaction leaves behind a digital fingerprint, adding to the mountain of personal data that can be used to learn almost everything about you. It’s too late to turn back now.
Oaktree Capital Group LLC (Star)
The list of history’s greatest dream teams has a new pair. Aristotle and Plato; F. Lee Bailey and Robert Shapiro; Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage – welcome Bruce Flatt and Howard Marks. The former, chief executive officer of Brookfield Asset Management Inc., courted the latter, Oaktree’s co-chairman, for a tie-up bringing together two of the biggest names in alternative investing, which encompasses private equity, infrastructure, real estate, and distressed debt. Oaktree’s shares rose to a three-year high as a result of the deal.
Shopify Inc. (Star)
Welcome to the big leagues, Shopify. In the same week it was announced that Shopify would be among the additions to the S&P/TSX 60 Index, its stock hit a record-high. Sure, the index includes such corporate luminaries as a label company – CCL Industries Inc. – as well as SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., which is embroiled in a variety of scandals at the moment. But the big banks are in there, too! Gone from the 60, meanwhile, will be ARC Resources Ltd. and Crescent Point Energy Corp. – displaced by an e-commerce platform for the masses, in yet another indignity inflicted on the oil patch.
Gap Inc. (Dog)
You know when something looks half decent on you in the store, but then you get home, you try it on and there’s Quasimodo looking back at you in the mirror? Gap shareholders know the feeling. When the company announced a couple of weeks ago that it would spin off Old Navy, it’s most profitable brand, the deal initially felt as cozy as a relaxed-fit cotton hoodie as Gap shares shot up by 16 per cent in one day. Shareholders were soon at the return counter, however. Over the past two weeks, the stock has given back all its gains, and then some.
NFI Group Inc. (Dog)
Picture yourself on a bus that’s just gone off a cliff. Halfway down, the driver gets on the PA system and announces, “While we have been negatively impacted by several factors, we’re confident in the future of this bus ride.” Feel better? Neither did NFI shareholders when the same message was given in an earnings call this week. Even though earnings were in line with estimates and NFI raised its dividend, concerns around the coach market weighed on the bus manufacturer’s stock, which has now declined by nearly 50 per cent over the past year.